'Ride Along 2' review: Kevin Hart, Ice Cube skid into sequel

When a real-life police officer punches suspects at random and violates civil liberties right and left, it’s a sign of trouble. When it happens in the movies, it’s a sign of a sequel to “Ride Along,” titled “Ride Along 2,” the pro forma follow-up to the 2014 action comedy starring Ice Cube as the snarling Atlanta detective and Kevin Hart as his frenetic brother-in-law-to-be, now a cop himself.

The film co-stars Olivia Munn as a tough Miami detective whose specialty is cleavage. From her screen time here, you wouldn’t know Munn can be funny (“The Daily Show,” etc.). “Ride Along 2” affords her the usual action comedy paradox for women: a boring straight role that’s all curves. Munn’s in the news this week for her rumored, then gently denied, engagement to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. That, at least, gives director Tim Story’s occasionally funny time-filler something to trend by.

A week before his wedding, Ben (Hart) joins future in-law James (Cube) on a mission to Florida, where a corrupt shipping magnate (Benjamin Bratt, sounding uncannily like Ricardo Montalban in his purring menace) runs a nice little drug trade on the side. Ken Jeong plays the bad guy’s computer hacker flunky, who joins forces with the perpetually arguing heroes.

There’s a fairly well-staged foot chase through Little Havana, with Hart in pursuit of Jeong (mostly Jeong’s stunt double, or Hart’s stunt double in pursuit of Jeong’s stunt double — where’s their movie?). The sharpest bit involves Hart assessing a woman’s sexiness by the quality (and raunch level) of her ring tone. Setup, follow-up, punchline, boom. The audience loves it. The preview audience likewise responded to the car chase depicted “Grand Theft Auto” animation style, through Ben’s excited eyes.

The script by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi gives you next to nothing for narrative complication and surprise, and a meager amount of verbal jokes. The fun’s mostly in the throwaway stuff, and Hart’s motormouth act, which already feels like medium-level desperation. At one point director Story cross-cuts, bizarrely, between Hart’s battle with an alligator and Bratt and Munn on the dance floor at a fancy party. The movie will be what it will be: a runway for “Ride Along 3,” which we should expect in January 2018. Maybe Munn can be funny in that one.

mjphillips@tribpub.com

Twitter @phillipstribune

'Ride Along 2' - 2 stars

MPAA rating: PG-13, for sequences of violence, sexual content, language and some drug material

Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes

Playing: In general release

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